Málaga CF returns to winning ways at La Rosaleda against Athletic (1-0)
Málaga CF defeated Athletic de Bilbao by 1-0 in a victory at La Rosaleda. A goal by Saviola was enough for the locals to rack up an important three points against a tough rival, who came up against the powerhouse that is Willy Caballero.
Málaga were determined to return to winning ways at La Rosaleda, and 90 seconds in Portillo had the first shot at goal, though he sent the ball too far to the left of Bilbao keeper Raúl. The ‘Malaguistas’ had another two opportunities to open the scoring after 14 minutes, and gradually began to take the reigns of the game. Antunes came close to a goal but the ball was sent to a corner, following which a Weligton header narrowly missed and went too high over Raúl’s goal.
This set the pace for the first Blue and Whites’ goal, and two minutes later, a pass from Lucas Piazon on the left set up a perfect ball for Saviola on the goal line, who put the locals 1-0 in the lead.
With a goal in hand, Manuel Pellegrini’s team maintained an intense game play in search of the second goal. In the 23rd minute Baptista launched a powerful attack from in front of the penalty area, which was saved by Raúl.
Athletic de Bilbao didn’t create any real danger for the locals until minute 33, when Willy Caballero prevented two chances of an equaliser. The first came for Ibai, followed by a shot from San José, resulting in impressive saves by Willy Caballero and the fans at La Rosaleda chanting the Argentinean-keeper’s name.
The second half got underway in much the same vein as the first with Málaga taking the initiative. Isco had the first chance to score within two minutes, which ended in a corner kick. Athletic were determined to equalise, and in minute 50 Susaeta came close to a goal, forcing another impressive save by Willy, followed by a promising shot by Piazon, again stopped by Raúl.
Bielsa’s team appeared a lot more ambitious in the second half, making things as difficult as possible for the Blue and Whites. Toulalan and Santa Cruz joined the game, and Llorente came on to the pitch for the visitors. Antunes took advantage of two free kicks, one of which was sent to a corner after coming into contact with a defender, and the second hitting the right goalpost.
Athletic went all out in their determination to score, and Susaeta had another chance, but failed to get past a very attentive Caballero. With just two points remaining, Willy again prevented an Athletic equaliser following a shot from Ibai from a free kick in front of the penalty area after Lugano was given a yellow card. Joaquín then ran the entire length of the pitch to reach Raúl’s goal, but the ball just missed the target by a few centimetres.
At the final whistle, the three points remain at La Rosaleda for Málaga CF, who came up against a very determined Athletic de Bilbao, but who were unable to get past the mighty Willy Caballero. The Blue and Whites are now firmly focused on Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League last 16 match against Porto.
MALAGA CF: Willy, Sergio Sánchez, Antunes, Weligton, Lugano, Camacho, Portillo, Lucas Piazon (Joaquín, min. 80), Saviola (Santa Cruz, min. 57), Baptista (Toulalan, min, 57) and Isco.
ATHLETIC CLUB: Raúl, Aurttenexte, Laporte, Iturraspe, De Marcos (Llorente, min. 65), Ibai, Susaeta, Iraola, Gurpegui (San José, min. 26), Aduriz and Herrera.
1-0: 18: Saviola.
REFEREE: González González, ‘Colegio Castellano Leonés’. Yellow cards were awarded to Iraola (min. 41), Laporte (min. 60), Camacho (min. 86) and Lugano (min. 87).
INFORMATION: 24th BBVA League match held at La Rosaleda in front of 24,808 fans.